Heaven is for real, but is the book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
“And a little child shall lead them!”
Ah, but where shall he lead them?
This is the question and this is the problem that we have. In “Heaven Is For Real” we have the supposed account of a little boy when he was around 4 years old of going to Heaven. This review is not to say anything about all near-death experiences. I will also say some of my information comes from Gary Habermas in my personal communication with him on near-death experiences. Unfortunately, I was unable to reach him prior to this blog for his specific opinion on this account.
One point that Dr. Habermas has made about near-death experiences is that one wants to find out the details of that experience as soon as possible. This did not happen in the case of Colton Burpo, the little boy who purportedly had the experience. It was only months after his surgery that we start hearing anything whatsoever about the details of his visit. While the parents can remain skeptical of where some information could come from, we must remember this is a ministry household and such information that Colton had could have been found.
There are some problems with the account of Colton (He will be referred to by first name and his Dad as Todd to avoid confusion). To begin with Jesus is described as having the marks from the cross in his hands. Yet those who know about the crucifixion know that Jesus had the nails put in his wrists instead of in his hands. Had they gone in his hands, then Jesus would have fallen off of the cross.
We also have the Holy Spirit being seen as incarnate in Heaven. The only instance we have of someone who is a member of the Godhead becoming incarnate is that of Jesus. It is likely we have a dangerous precedent being encouraged here and one that could quite easily lead to a sort of tritheism. Some information that Colton also gives would have been easily known just from reading the Bible. We don’t need a heavenly vision to know that Jesus really loves the children.
What is most dangerous about all of this is that a child is being given the authoritative power to tell us what Heaven is like and rather than interpreting his experiences by the Scriptures, we find that we are interpreting the Scriptures by his experiences. Colton in the book becomes an authority to people on what Heaven is like all based on a vision. If we are to follow visions like this, perhaps we should also follow that of Joseph Smith or any other number of people who have visions.
What really happened to Colton? I cannot say. It could be that he did have some sort of experience but it kept being added to. I don’t really know. Some might say “Maybe God gave a vision that would be fitting for a child.” While this is possible, the problem is much of this information would have been deceptive for a child and given not an incomplete view but rather given an inaccurate view. Of course one can speak to children, but we will still try to be accurate.
Note I am also not giving any view to Colton that would imply something immoral necessarily on his part. I do not know what happened, but I know that there are problems with this book. I do not question that Heaven is real in a sense, but I do question the validity of what Colton has said. There are problems with a near-death experience when events only come out months later rather than immediately as there is plenty of time for elaboration.
Readers are invited to stick to more authoritative sources.